Best PracticesDealership Marketing

Looking Inside the Minds of Car Shoppers!

Dealership Reputation Keyboard Key

While working on my presentation for Digital Dealer 13, I really wanted to effectively show folks how to get into the minds of our modern day car shoppers. The answer is really quite simple to see, in fact it is right under your nose at the place most car shoppers begin their car buying process – Google!

I spent a lot of time creating some example videos of how people search on Google, and I would like to share my summary video with you.

Without question, the greatest change in the history of the automotive retail industry has been the introduction of the Internet, and how it has changed the car buying process. Before, dealerships held the power of information, and shoppers had to visit the dealership in person to get the info they desired to make a car buying decision. This encouraged most dealerships to adopt selling practices that discouraged sharing any information over the phone, and created one of the most common lines that can still be heard in the dealership today – Just get’em in!

The Internet has made information readily available to car shoppers, to include dealer invoice and cost, as well as what is to expect as a competitive price in the marketplace for the new or used car they are shopping for. The power has transitioned from the dealership to the car buyer in the shopping process, and now, more than ever, dealerships must know how to get into the minds of car shoppers to learn exactly what they are looking for, so that dealers can best meet their needs and earn their business.

The Internet has also brought great value to dealers in this area as there is a wealth of information now available that enables us to see what type of online shopping behavior car shoppers exhibit. You can see this in several tools, including Dataium.

There are also great reporting services such as JD Powers and Associates that do extensive research to gather the information that dealers seek to better understand our shoppers. There is, however, a much easier and eye-opening way to look into the minds of your car shoppers.

Have you ever noticed that while searching on Google, the search bar will start to “complete” your searches with other commonly searched phrases?

This feature is known as “Google Auto-complete” and it is a very useful tool to see what other folks are looking for. Google Auto Complete will prompt results to your search phrase based upon millions of searches made every day – allowing you to see what other car shoppers are looking for, and what they think about us.

Take a minute below to look at the short video I made of making some searches on Google from my computer. Look closely at the results.

Unfortunately, you will quickly see that our reputation is still poor.

I do feel that while many dealers are very unhappy about how the Internet has leveled the playing field with our shoppers, this change will benefit us as an industry as it will hold all dealerships’ behavior to a higher standard. Once dealerships realize they can no longer get away with “old-school” tactics that would alienate our customers, they will be encouraged to maintain high standards of business to be successful in our modern market.

Did you look closely at what car shoppers are looking for?

Now ask yourself, would they find that information on your website? If not, how would they find your dealership in the search results if the information they are looking for is not even present at your “virtual dealership”?

Would a searcher find your dealership if they searched for whom the best car dealer was in your market?

Did you notice that when I searched for “the best car dealership in Cincinnati”, the result was Have you taken the time to tell your shoppers why you are the dealer they should choose over others?

You are more than welcome to utilize this What car shoppers search for video at your dealerships for training. There is a wealth of information to identify and act upon in what Google Auto Complete has to show us. If you want to do this yourself, just clear the cache on your browser and set the location to where you are at. Look closely at what you see inside the minds of your car shoppers – and then act to meet those expectations and needs.

Kevin Frye

As a former Naval officer I am driven to produce results & to lead people to reach their full abilit Aviation, outdoors, tennis, running, weighli...
  • B
  • November 8, 2012
Love the rel=author link!
  • T
  • November 15, 2012
Even with those broad searches above......a local dealer is not going to rank for terms like
do I need a downpayment to buy a car
how do i buy a car online
car dealer trade in value
you have to ask yourself this question "If I create a page targeting one of these terms, will I outrank who is currently #1?"
in most instance you will be hard pressed to beat out 3rd party sites like Autobytel, Edmunds, or KBB for these types of terms.
With "best car dealer in cincinnati" your meta description contains highest and rated which are similar terms to best. But unfortunately no one searches best car dealer in.......